The combination of transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle eliminates errors in goods handling

Benefits of combining transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle in a warehouse

19 July 2022

Combining transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle in a logistics centre boosts throughput in storing and retrieving products from their locations. This automated storage system speeds up pallet movements and goods handling.

The automated Pallet Shuttle is a prime example of the efficiency of high-density storage systems. It works like this: automatic handling equipment, i.e., transfer cars or stacker cranes, transports materials to their storage channels; once there, an autonomous electric shuttle inserts and removes pallets from their locations. This automated system notably reduces goods loading and unloading times.

Transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle: how do they work?

The storage solution that combines transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle is the automated Pallet Shuttle. This system, which replaces forklifts, consists of multiple motorised shuttles — served by transfer cars — that move automatically inside the storage channels.

In this completely automated storage solution, transfer cars transport a motor-driven shuttle in their cradles. The shuttle then enters the storage channel to deposit the pallet in the first free location. Then, the shuttle returns to the transfer car to go back to the entry point, repeating the operation as indicated by the system.

The configuration of the Pallet Shuttle operated with transfer cars maximises the productivity of the automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). At a minimum, each level of the automated Pallet Shuttle system is operated by a motorised shuttle and a transfer car. Lifts are used to connect the different levels of the AS/RS, performing movements from the floor level to the required height. All automatic movements — of both the shuttles and the transfer cars — are coordinated by the warehouse management system (WMS).

The automated Pallet Shuttle is a high-density storage system: it decreases the number of aisles in which the handling equipment operates and compacts the locations that house the goods. Employing transfer cars to move the motor-driven shuttles means that the aisles can be narrower, thus optimising floor space.

The automated Pallet Shuttle system combines transfer cars with motorised shuttles
The automated Pallet Shuttle system combines transfer cars with motorised shuttles

Advantages of combining transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle

Pairing transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle brings together the benefits of automating goods movements and of maximising the available surface area to accommodate a larger number of products. The main plus points of this type of AS/RS include:

  • Shorter goods storage and retrieval times in the warehouse.
  • Improved throughput thanks to the automatic movements, which raise the quantity of cycles per hour compared to other systems.
  • Nonstop operations. The shuttles are charged automatically while onboard the transfer cars, so they’re always ready to go.
  • Automated goods management, whereby the WMS moves the handling equipment while avoiding mistakes and maximising safety in product handling.
  • Ultra-compact storage system for housing the highest possible number of materials in a limited space: the racks can stand as tall as 40 metres, while the storage channels reach up to 40 metres deep.

Ultimately, the combination of transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle fosters a more productive warehouse with safe, continuous, error-free processes. This AS/RS is versatile and can be adapted to the characteristics of your facility: the layout, number of SKUs per channel, and even operations involving pallets of different dimensions.

Transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle: applications

Installing a high-density AS/RS that combines transfer cars with motorised shuttles is especially advisable if your aim is to boost productivity and pallet movements per hour in your warehouse.

The most common logistics scenarios for implementing transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle are:

  • Facilities with a high volume of pallets per SKU that require speedier storage and retrieval operations. The automatic equipment replaces the forklifts, greatly increasing the number of cycles per hour in the logistics centre.
  • Warehouses with high stock turnover. This is because the automatic handling equipment ensures continuous pallet-in/pallet-out cycles performed with total autonomy.
  • Temperature-controlled products. This high-density storage system reduces the volume to be cooled, resulting in considerable energy savings. Automation also prevents operators from excessive exposure to cold temps, promoting a safe, productive work environment.
  • Facilities requiring a storage buffer. The Pallet Shuttle system can also serve as a buffer. Goods can be stored there for a specific time until they are needed for a production or logistics process. Alternatively, they can be directly distributed to customers.
Pet foods manufacturer Alinatur Petfood invested in the automated Pallet Shuttle solution
Pet foods manufacturer Alinatur Petfood invested in the automated Pallet Shuttle solution

Success stories: transfer cars with the Pallet Shuttle

Companies in sectors as diverse as chemicals and food can rely on this storage solution to achieve high product inflows and outflows.

These are three of many examples of companies that have chosen to ramp up efficiency in their warehouses with the automated Pallet Shuttle system, where motor-driven shuttles move goods in conjunction with transfer cars:

  • Alinatur Petfood (Spain): this manufacturer of dry dog and cat food equipped its facility with the automated Pallet Shuttle with transfer cars. “We wanted to improve our storage capacity and streamline the flow of pallet movements. We knew that automation was the only option for covering our logistics needs,” says Roberto Ortín, the company’s General Manager. Alinatur Petfoods’ AS/RS is comprised of two racking units with a transfer car on each level, raising the system’s productivity to up to 126 combined cycles per hour. “Thanks to the Mecalux solutions, we’ve gone from housing 1,300 pallets to almost 8,000 in total,” says Ortín.
  • Cistér (Portugal): this Portuguese pulse producer has maximised throughput in its warehouse with the Pallet Shuttle system with transfer cars, multiplying the cycles/hour by the number of storage levels. “We’ve already seen the advantages of this storage system: we’ve raised our capacity in addition to the number of cycles,” says Cistér Director Pedro Maia. The company’s AS/RS is made up of two 71 metres long by 19 metres tall racking units with a total storage capacity of 12,672 pallets. The channels house eight to 24 pallets deep, organised by an electric shuttle.
  • Luís Simões (Spain): this Portuguese third-party logistics provider installed the automated Pallet Shuttle with transfer cars in its facility in Cabanillas del Campo, Spain. The Mecalux Group designed a solution with two transfer cars per level to move the motorised shuttles, enabling the processing and dispatch of 4,000 orders a day. “With the AS/RS, we’ve increased goods inflows and outflows, improved the truck loading process, and minimised errors,” says António Martin, Manager of the logistics centre.

Transfer cars and the Pallet Shuttle for automated, error-free logistics operations

The automated Pallet Shuttle with transfer cars is the ideal solution when you need to automate operations, scale up throughput, and optimise storage space in your facility. This automated storage system makes use of one or more electric shuttles that move in the storage channels inside the racks, ensuring uninterrupted operations.

At Mecalux, we have a wide range of experience in the design and implementation of AS/RS. Our warehouse management system, Easy WMS, coordinates and automates the processes of the Pallet Shuttle system with transfer cars in multiple countries. Interested in maximising your warehouse productivity? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. One of our expert consultants will advise you on the best solution for your logistics operations.